Monday, April 29, 2013

Cheap Trick's "Live at Budokan" 35th Anniversary Concert...

A couple of days ago, I learned that Cheap Trick was going to be playing a gig in honor of the 35th anniversary of their mega-hit album, “Cheap Trick Live at Budokan”. Very cool. Even cooler, the performance was going to stream live online via the web site, ‘Livestream’. (The only other live event I have tuned into on the net was the ’09 performance of U2 at the Rose Bowl that was streamed on YouTube…a great show it was.) I have heard of Livestream, so I followed the link on my Facebook newsfeed. After a quick sign-up (a requirement for watching the Budokan show), I was good to go. Sunday, April 28th, 8:00 PM/EST, at the John Varvatos Bowery boutique in New York City.

I had to work Sunday, and didn’t get out of there until a few minutes to 8:00. I was a bit ‘late to the party’, but tuned in when Robin Zander was intro-ing “Need Your Love”. Before I get to my mini-review of the show, I’m going to travel back for a moment…

In the late 1970’s to 1980’s, I was in high school. Music was of great interest to me, and I can safely say that while some teenagers were spending time glued to the television, I was frequently listening to music while drawing, etc. Some of my favorite bands during those days were RUSH, The Who, and…you guessed it…Cheap Trick. The first album of theirs that I could call my “intro” to them was, “Heaven Tonight”. It was the 1979 release of “Live at Budokan” that cemented their position on my favorites list. The “Dream Police” album (also released in 1979) didn’t hurt either.

(Left to right: Robin Zander, Bun E. Carlos, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson)
Seeing the Facebook announcement for the anniversary gig reminded me of the time I had seen them in concert. Initially, I remembered catching them at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, for their “Dream Police” tour. I saved a number of old ticket stubs from back then, so I dug them out in search of the Fox stub. It appears that I misplaced it, but I do have the stub from another show I completely forgot about. It is for their “All Shook Up” tour in 1981, at the Omni.

My memories of seeing them in person are great ones. They really knew how to put on a show. All were skilled musicians, and Robin had great pipes. (He was extremely easy on the eyes, too.) They hold a permanent spot on my short list of great concerts.

Back to Livestream, and the concert of last night. As I already mentioned, I had to work Sunday afternoon, so I had to tune in to the show already in progress. Judging by a set list I found, I came in a little more than halfway through. The feed quality was better than expected. The sound was also good.  
(Left to right: Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Daxx Nielsen (in back), Tom Petersson)
As all of us do, the boys have aged. Rather well for the most part. Rick Nielsen (guitar) still looks as geeky as he used to, and is still rather hyper on stage. He bounded around, his bejeweled bow tie that said ‘BUDOKAN’ glinting in the stage lights. Tom Petersson (bass guitar) still looks pretty much the same, and was quite a bit more reserved than Nielsen. Then there was Robin, one of my huge fan-crushes from the past…
(Robin now...)
Robin Zander (lead vocals, guitar) has aged very well. For 60, he looks great. Still has maintained his stage persona. Still has his long blond hair. He hasn’t ballooned like other guys of his age. He’s still a good looking guy. Now for his voice…

(Robin then...)
I was doing some date checking via Google, and came across a Rolling Stone review of the streamed show. Their assessment was glowing. I am assuming they were at the actual venue, and didn’t watch it online like I had. That being said, it pains me to say that I was a little disappointed. “Need Your Love” was the first song I saw/heard, and there were times I found it painful to listen to. There is a bit of falsetto-ish singing Robin does during the tune, and…well...let's just say that some sour notes were hit. He did okay on other tunes. I just think it would’ve been wiser to stick with songs within the range he can still handle. Maybe he was having an off night.  I dunno. Seeing him on stage caused me to mentally regress a bit. To remember seeing him in the past. Looking down on him from the Fox Theater balcony, trying not to drool on the fans below. In the overall sense, I was glad to catch what I did.

There was one major discrepancy in my Cheap Trick experience. Bun E. Carlos was not in attendance. The gentleman who was there pounding the skins was Rick Nielsen’s son, Daxx. He did a fine job, but Bun E.’s absence left a hole. I think it did for a lot of long time Trick fans. I did some more Googling to try and find some explanation. All the info I found was from Bun E.’s side of things. He still considers himself a member of the band, and I didn’t find anything to say the others didn’t feel the same way. There does appear to be some bad blood though. Don’t know what it would stem from. Bun E. says that they asked him to take a hiatus, and so far it looks to have lasted a couple of years. Trying to find any clues as to what the feelings of the rest of the band are was like looking for the proverbial needle in a hay stack. I won’t lose any sleep over it, but I am curious to know the whole story.

My little criticisms aside, I’m glad I got to catch what I did. Cheap Trick is still rockin’ it out...hopefully, they will get the entire original line-up together some time in the not too distant future... 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Earth Days & Images...

Another day draws to a close here on the marsh. Spring has definitely sprung, the temperatures wavering between the low 60’s, and upper 70’s. Today was another day in the trenches at my part-time gig. I’m looking forward to a decent night’s sleep…tomorrow is a day off. A day off with predicted thunderstorms. 90% chance of rain according to the weather scan channel. I dig rain, so I’m looking forward to it. For me, rain and productivity go hand in hand. I’m in need of some creativity.

Trying to get a grasp on my daily schedule since becoming a part of the working world again has proven slightly daunting. My work shifts don’t usually last more than 5 to 5 ½ hours, but they are placed in the scope of my day in just the right way to make scheduling my time difficult. Three main areas of my life are: Work; Housework; Creative Time. So far, the first two are biting into the third…which, of course, is what I deem to be the most important area. I have had a few art projects waiting in the wings for weeks, and my blog hasn’t seen much action for just as long. It’s my blog that I am tackling first. Time to travel back a bit to grab my formula for posting on here…back to my blog’s beginnings. Not regressing…just retrieving the original essence to put it back into play.

(Bird houses, Camilia blooms, and new fern fronds.)
I have always posted what I have been moved to post. That has never changed.  What did change was a slowly evolving ‘expectation’ I placed on myself, in the guise of what I thought other people expected. Certain posts that I felt readers had come to expect from me. I claim responsibility for unintentionally nurturing this ‘expectation’. For the most part, I think it to be self-imposed. (I could go deeper into trying to relate what I perceive this “self-imposed” expectation to be, but that would just be tedious for me to write, and for you to read…moving on.) The change will probably be noticed more by me than anyone else, but it needs to happen. This blog is important to me, and it needs to be the organic creature it once was.

Last Monday (the 22nd) was Earth Day. A day set aside to give props to the planet. One measly day. I look at every day as Earth day. After all, the Earth doesn’t live off of us…

The various photos in this post were taken over the last couple of weeks. Gaia has shown several of her moods in that time. Cool, warm, sunny, rainy, breezy, windy, calm. I captured some of them during my strolls. Strolls that are becoming more regular again, thankfully. It doesn’t matter how long or short my walks are, just as long as I take them. Walking outside and communing with nature for even a few minutes does wonders for my mental health. A little nature induced stress relief and relaxation should be a regular part of anyone’s health regimen…in my opinion.

(This photo and the one above it were from an overcast, and rather windy, day on the marsh. The strength of the wind was seen in low lying chop on the water's surface.)
I’m posting some of my photos from the last couple of weeks in much belated honor of Earth Day…and every other day…which I also think of as Earth Days…
(These shots are of a blooming Sago Palm by the  condos pool area.  I think this is in the later stages of the bloom cycle...strangely beautiful, it looks like an alien face-hugger might come flying out.)
(Radiant sun, Dogwood blooms, blades of grass.)
(Spanish Moss covered tree, Honeysuckle blooms (when I was young I would pinch off the end connected to the flower's stem and pull the stamen out...the drop of "honey" clinging to it was so sweet), and a mottled brown leaf that looks to be from one of the many Magnolia trees around here.)
(No stroll would be complete without paying a visit to the marsh side picnic table on the far side of the pond.)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Alpha Visitors...

Shadows. Dark forms, black as pitch. Even in a darkened room there is usually just enough light to allow one’s eyes to adjust…to make out forms. Shapes and shadows of objects in the room. Sometimes the eyes can make out the shape of other things…

For the last few months I have been having some experiences that both intrigue and unnerve me. Part of me is convinced that the experiences are real…but in what sense? They are probably the stuff of dreams, but they seem so real as to make my imagination think of other possibilities. I haven’t been very vocal about them because up until a few days ago I wasn’t convinced that there was anything to truly relate to anyone. What proof do I truly have? With each experience, I appear to be quite lucid, and my eyes seem to be open. With each passing night the big question mark for me is ‘did I actually see what I thought I was seeing’?

Before I go any further, I will try to explain what my experiences are. For some time now, I have been sleeping on the bed in our computer room here because I need to incline my back and shoulders when I sleep. My back and joint issues make sleeping flat on a mattress painful, and of course that means sleep isn’t possible. When I shut down the computer before I lie down on my pillows for some rest, it gets very quiet in here. Fairly dark, and quiet. Not until the last couple of months have I felt even the slightest unease when I turn the lights off. It’s not a fearful unease, but the unease of…I don’t know how else to say it…the unease of feeling like I’m not alone in the room. Initially, I just chalked it up to the fact that I watch quite a lot of paranormal shows on television. That being said, that sort of stuff has never bothered me. I have had experiences with hauntings in the past, so I do believe in ghosts/spirits. I don’t really count any of that as the cause of these feelings. The frequency of my odd 'mental' events just has me a tad perplexed.

The first time I had an ‘experience’, it really freaked me out. I seemed to wake up; I lifted my head and looked over towards the computer which is on a table to the right of the bed on the opposite wall. I remember seeing the form of a person standing by the computer chair, and closer to the room’s door I could make out a kind of churning shape that appeared to be forming into something. I laid back and closed my eyes, but had to take another look. I remember slowly turning my head and really trying to focus my eyes. I figured it was all imaginary, and if I looked really hard I would find that nothing was really there. That didn’t happen. The churning mass continued to form something, and the image by the chair seemed to turn what I thought to be its head in my direction. At that point I just shut my eyes and tried to focus on something else. Eventually I fell back to sleep, but when I got up that morning the experience was still very vivid in my mind. So…was it real? Was I dreaming? I have extremely vivid dreams from time to time. It could have been. As it was a bit unnerving, I decided that it was a dream and pushed it away out of mind.

I have had several similar experiences since then. I say similar because they haven’t been the same forms. Some of the more recent images have clearly been people. The last ‘incident’ was night before last…one was seated at the foot of the bed, and another was standing by the bookcase. There hasn’t been anything sinister about the images. Some are looking at me, and some aren’t. It always seems that they know that I can see them just as they apparently see me.

So…what do these images, visions, whatever you want to call them, mean? I would immediately call them dreams, but I am utterly convinced that I do open my eyes and move my head. Am I conscious? I can definitely say that I’m not fully conscious. I think that is clear. Am I in the alpha state at these times? That seems to be the best explanation. If I’m in the alpha state, I would be in a light sleep with the ability to tap into my subconscious. It is a state where dreams are produced…but it is also a state that is prime for entering into meditation. The mind is more open. The focus pullers of the conscious mind are, in essence, ‘asleep’. Assuming that I am in ‘alpha’, which is it…dreams or something else?

The last incident that I mentioned above was very vivid. I have memory of my eyes being open, and I remember thinking to myself, “okay, now my eyes are clearly open…there is no denying it”. But were they? The mind is an interesting and mysterious thing. To say I am puzzled would be an understatement. Frustrated even. I just want to know for sure what is causing me to see these “images”. How? I have no idea.

Most will just call it vivid dreaming, and maybe that’s all it is. I have had a couple of recurring dreams in the past. Can this be classified as a recurring dream? I have to say, “No”. If I saw the same images each time, I would have called it a recurring dream after the first few times. The images are different each time. Some are more vivid and formed than others. If it is a dream, what is the message, if any?

Will I see more “visitors” in my room in the days to come? I suppose time will tell. Whatever these ‘dreams/visions’ have to tell me, I hope they say it soon…I need sleep...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sunday Snaps...

Should Punxsutawney Phil be fired? A lot of people seem to think so. Phil popped out of his hole, and was not greeted by his shadow. Historically, that is supposed to mean that an early Spring is on the horizon. Snow is still falling in many parts of the US, and Phil's name has turned into proverbial mud. I've even read that the famous groundhog has gotten death threats. Really? Seems a bit harsh. However, it might be said that that is easy for me to say...
Today is a beautiful day. 65 degrees, and sunny. Over the last couple of months we have had the temperatures dip a bit here and there. We have had some rainy days in there, too. If Spring was predicted to arrive early, it seems to have here on the Georgia coast. For the most part, anyway. As the days go on the temperatures are staying within the low 60's to upper 70's range.

A normal Savannah Spring is covered in color. Typically, azalea bushes burst into pink and white blooms. At the moment they have popped out a few flowers here and there, but nothing to rival the norm. One thing that did arrive early, and that shows no sign of abating any time soon, is the pollen. Everything is covered in the yellow powder. Even when it has rained, the pollen is back in no time. Hopefully that part of our "early Spring" will stop sinuses and the sinuses of the other allergy sufferers would be most appreciative...

Between work, normal chores and such at home, and just feeling flat out nackered most of the time, I haven't been able to pay much attention to the things I enjoy doing. Things that not only feed my creative side, but that give me much needed therapy and mental release. One of the two most important is my frequent forays into nature for some communing, and photo snapping. I finally reached a stage of intense withdrawal, and finally was able to take a stroll on Easter Sunday.

In the neighborhood of 80 degrees, it was a perfect day to get some shots of the marsh. It is a tad muddy at the moment, but the green is returning. The blue of the Bull River winked in the sunlight just as it usually does. Other than a few shots here and there of what azalea flowers have grown, and some textural photos of some evergreen shrubs, there was a lot of the dry and the brown. Gaia still shedding her skin after the Winter until Spring clothes her again. The photos in this post are from that day.

That visit to the outdoors made all the difference to my mental state. I won't put off paying nature a call again. The beach has been calling...

To everyone still dealing with the cold, sending you some warm thoughts.